Saturday, February 14, 2015

A little more on Stolpersteine

The February 16, 2015 issue of The New Yorker magazine includes a Letter from Berlin by Elizabeth Kolbert titled "The Last Trial: A great-grandmother, Auschwitz, and the arc of justice." She tells the story of a German man tried as an elderly person for his role in processing the money assets taken from prisoners at Auschwitz. One of those prisoners destined for extermination was Kolbert's great-grandmother.

The article blends the history of justice finding or not finding Nazi perpetrators with details of her family story. One of those details is the placement of a Stolperstein on the street where Kolbert's great-grandmother last lived in Berlin. Readers may recall my post about Stolpersteine in December 2014. Kolbert attended the placement and spent time with Gunter Demnig, the artist. I do recommend reading the article.

Recently in Karlsruhe, I made a photograph of a particularly thought-provoking installation of Stolpersteine. The plaque at the top states these men were all members of the state legislature in Baden. In other words, they were elected by their fellow citizens to serve in the government. Some died in concentration camps. Other causes of death: by execution, during interrogation, in prison, in exile, from the effects of imprisonment.

It's a glittering patch of sidewalk next to what's now the city library. The location once housed the former state government of Baden* in the Ständehaus.

Stolpersteine for eight members of the Baden state legislature
who died under Nazi oppression
Ständehausstr. 2, Karlsruhe
*After World War II, Baden and other localities went through numerous phases under the occupying Allied forces. In 1952, the current state of Baden-Würrttemberg was formed, and state government moved to Stuttgart. As I have mentioned before, a healthy tension remains between the Badisch and the Schwäbisch.